Monday, October 28, 2013

You Know for the Fridge

I like to do home made gifts for people for birthdays and Christmas. There are a couple of reasons for this. First I am kind of a cheap skate artist. Not that I cannot afford to get people stuff for the occasion, I just don't enjoy spending frivolous amounts of money on things I am not sure the person is going to really enjoy. This is not saying that I don't get people gifts from time to time. When I really know the person and I know that they want something that they would truly appreciate, but would never buy themselves. Then I will try to get that for them. Like one year I found a pewter punch bowl for my mom. She had been looking for one for a while and when she had seen one didn't get it and lost her chance. An opportunity she had really regretted missing. When I can do something like that there is no need to make them a Christmas present.

There are just so many times where I don't really have a good idea what bought item would capture the way I feel for a person. I have been on the receiving end of these kinds of gifts, and lets just say that for years I didn't have to buy myself lotions or body sprays, because that was just what you got the generic female. Not that I will ever argue with getting more stuff like that, but other times there are gifts that I just straight up won't use and feel completely guilty for that. I have brought home gifts at times that have built up a layer of dust on their unopened packaging, before I just give up trying to think of how I will use them, and re-gift or donate them so that they don't go their whole lives completely neglected.

I like to give gifts that tell people just how much I know about them, and that I care enough to listen to them and know what they would want. I try to anticipate their wants and needs so that when they receive a gift from me they will appreciate it and understand just how much I value them. In the past I have made sketches of my great grandparents for my grand mother. I have done paintings of places that were meaningful to people, and subjects that family and friends love. It is easier to tailor make something for a person you love if you do it yourself rather than finding a store bought item. You know the person the store does not.

This is also how I see my perspective buyer for my art. I would like to think of them as my friends. If I were to make art for a family member or friend I try to think what they may like in an a piece of art. I build a fictional person to make art for and try to please them. I try to make them feel some kind of emotion regarding the piece. Usually I go for laughs. If you look at my work it is filled with irony.

This strategy is what most people recommend when trying to sell you work any way. You can fill out little worksheets and do all of the little things that people try telling you will get into the head of your potential customers. The thing is that for me and possible for others it is just easier to imagine your audience as a friend. Your product is just like making a good joke with that friend. It is a conversation with that buyer, but you have to show them you are listening to them too, in order to provide something that they want. Making a product for your buyer, can be just like trying to pick out the perfect gift for your family member. Think about it you are making them a gift, or a gift for their friend, so what you are making must be filled with just a much love as when you are making it for your own people.

This to me is how I put passion into my work, and how I show my customer just how much I appreciate them too.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I don't have the tools

I am realizing more and more that I don't have the tools I need to do all of the things that I want to do. I thought that when I went to school that they would help me to obtain all of the keys I would need to be a success. I was wrong. What I got was a general idea of what I needed to do to succeed, but none of the details, the actual know how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be.

Being an artist I have learned how to draw, and paint, and sculpt, and all other kinds of things that pertain to the act of creation, but none of the tools I would need to actually be an artist. No one taught me how to talk to people about being an artist. No one taught me how to write proposals, or how to find galleries, or shows. I wasn't given any resources to do these things. So when I graduated and didn't really know how to be an artist I drifted.

These skills that I was missing were essential to being an artist. You cant just sit in a room and make art for your own walls, and call yourself an artist. A closet artist is, at least to me, not an artist, at that point you are just a hobbyist.

I want to be an artist. I want to get back into the creative art community. I am finding that it is not as easy as I had originally thought. Especially because of my lack of knowledge. The gaps in my learning are proving to be a handicap that I didn't know I had until recently. Maybe if I had known about this handicap earlier I would have been able to work my way around it by now, and be more successful now that I currently am.

I read all of the blog posts about how to get press, and how to make connections. I understand the theory of what I should be doing, but no one post useful places to start at. Understanding how to do something and actually having the tools to do it are completely different. I know how to make decorate a cake but I lack the tools to actually accomplish what I want to do. I know what I should be doing, but I don't know what sites to use or who I should be talking to to get to that point. I need resources that I just don't have.

I hope that maybe as I struggle through this process of discovery, I can help those that follow find the information they need to have success without having to go through the same road blocks that I do. I hope that I can be more informative than the vague blogs that I have been reading. I don't want anyone to have to go through the same things that I have trying to find their path. One person's success should pave the way for another to find their own. We should be generous with our successes, helping those that follow rather than being selfish with them, and refusing to share our knowledge.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Doing ALL the Stupid Stuff

There is now way around it. There will always be work you have to do that you don't really want to. You may like what you do for the most part but there is always the part that you hate. I love my art. I love the creative freedom of doing art and making things, and just being creative in general. The thing is that, that is just not going to get the job done. I can't just make art and expect the world to gather around and buy it. I have to sell it. I have to do the work necessary to get noticed. I have to look professional, and be extroverted enough and confident enough to get out of my comfort zone and sell myself.

This is the hard part of work. It is doing the things that you are not comfortable with. It requires that kind of sacrifice. I don't really know how to do all of the work that I need to, so I am going to have to learn how. That is also extra work that I don't really want to do. I have to be proactive. I have to force myself to those places that make me feel uncomfortable so that I can find the place where I am successful.

There is also the mundane. I have to do all of the paperwork, and the writing that I really don't care about. I know that everything has to be on point in order to be a success, but I am constantly tempted to just put half effort into the details I don't care about. Descriptions of my work, and summaries of things, creating a consistent theme, or taking quality pictures, fall by the way side, because I'm not passionate about that. I am passionate about making art.

I have always sucked at details. I am more of a big picture kind of person. I just have never had the patience to make everything exact. My art teachers hated it because I didn't really ever take the time to make my lines straight or precise. It it why I have sucked at math, I get the general principle but have trouble keeping all of the details straight. It is why my house is in general clean, but the bathroom still feels dirty and I have difficulty finding things some times.

Now that I know what I want, I have made goals, and I know what needs to be done, I am forced to look at the details of my work again. I have to make sure I have consistent color themes, and banners and things that I have never felt I have been very good at. I know that if I put the work into it that I can get it right and be able look professional. I just have to be willing to put in the effort.

Effort is the key to success. You cannot ignore the little things or things will never come to fruition.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Keep Moving Forward

There are a lot of things to learn about failure. Not just about how to improve your work, but you know those pesky life lessons that your parents always told you would build character. I often, for unwarranted reasons, feel like a failure. These are unwarranted, mostly because I have felt like I have failed, but when you put my experience into context it really isn't a failure. Failure is all about perspective, and how you feel when you have finished doing something.

Perspective is probably the most important thing to feeling like a failure for many reasons. First the reason that you feel like you have failed is, you play the comparison game. I am not doing as well as this person. Or you watch some reality television, or have a favorite role model that has filled you with a false idea of what it means to be successful. How to use perspective in this case. There are several billion people on this planet. The percentage of people that end up on reality television or make it to world renown status as a person in their field is well less than 1% of 1% (FYI as an artist this is just an estimate because I don't do maths). These people that get these great break-throughs in life are more rare than the people who have won the lottery. 

You are not a failure because you didn't catch the eye of some top guy in your field and automatically rise to the top, because he saw some unpolished gem in your eye. This is reality and well it just doesn't work like that. Also, just think about how many successful careers are made by those people who didn't have to work for what they got on those reality television shows, or who got their big break with no work. Can you think of more than like 5 who have actually made something out of instant success? I cannot even think of one. So, keep perspective, these others you see around you and who you see in the news and on television are no real judge of just how well you are doing in life. Not only that, without fighting for it you can take for granted what you have earned and squander the chance you have been given not really appreciate the big break that you got. 

Another thing we need to keep in mind about perspective is, whether or not we are actually done. Yes, you complete a project or a step to a goal at some point an think I am done, my work here is finished. But are you really? Think about it. Your end goal is really to be a success. If you are not successful then you a probably not done. There is more that you can do. If you have not completed something that people see as a success, then you need to either invest time into making it better, showing it in a better light so that people can understand it the way you do, or start over and fix everything that you may have passed over the first time. It is only after you have exhausted every course of action that you can call something a failure.

You are not done until you have not other step you can take on a project. If you didn't do something and think to yourself well that should be good enough, then you are not done, and if it fails it is not because the idea or the work was bad it is because you failed it. You didn't finish. You didn't put in all of the work in necessary to get what you wanted out of it. You have to be completely done with something before you can label it a failure and move on. Like Yoda said "Do, there is not try." You can do anything, you just have to do all of it. You are not actually doing anything unless you have invested your whole self and tried every option. Don't let disappointment and momentary set backs break you down so that you just stop working towards your goal. Life is going to try to keep you from finishing your work, but if you can work passed what you thought was failure and keep going, you are on the right road.

The last thing about perspective is, is your actual work praise worthy. Have you actually made something you are not just proud of but something others would appreciate to, Or did you just take a dump and then expect the angels of heaven to come down and pretend it is gold? Minimal effort on your part doesn't deserve your praise let alone the praise of others. Did you do your best? It is most likely that you are not some kind of savant in your field. You are going to have to work for what you want, and putting in a half-assed (sorry but this is the best description I can come up with) effort is not going to garner any such praise. Crap is crap and people are not going to appreciate when you try to sell crap as something other than what it is. You have to put in the effort, and the practice so that you are no longer putting out crap, and actually making the gold you told everyone that you were. It is time to get perspective and realize that maybe you could do a little more, that there was something of you that you were holding back, and that you can do better. To be successful you have to lay down all of your cards, your blood, sweat and tears, and your whole heart. Only when you have held back nothing can you feel like you have really tried. Be sure that you have left it all out there on the dance floor. 

If however you have invested your whole self into your work. You have taken passion out onto the dance floor and danced till you didn't have feet left and your muscles gave out and the DJ refused to keep playing music, and you still haven't gotten the success you have looked for then it is time to decide. You have to decide how you are going to feel about this. It is going to be disappointing. There is no way to candy coat rejection. However, it is now up to you to decided if you are going to let your attempt to be a complete failure,  bring you down and give up, or are you going to let your failure become a success. There is something to learn from every experience in life. Even if you have failed after putting out all you got, you will have learned something from what you have done. If you are human and can learn and heal and move on, you can always come up with something new. So, turn your failure into success. You learned how to bounce back from failure, maybe you learned a new strategy you can invest into your next venture, maybe you made connections that will help you with your next idea. No attempt is ever a complete failure, you just have to find the success that was there and incorporate it into moving forward. If you let a failure be a complete failure and gain nothing from the experience you will stop moving forward and never find any kind of success you were looking for in the first place.

Just keep moving forward, find the success in failure.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Things Have Changed

I have recently realized just how different of a person I am now versus what I was when I was in high school. It is nice to look back and see just how far I have come. It is like looking in the rear view mirror of a car. You can recognize all of the things that you have passed, or done in the past but you can see them from a completely new angle. They may have influenced your driving when you were on that part of the road, and brought you to where you are now but they aren't really that relevant to you any more. Looking at them you see them in a new light. Because of those obstacles that you drove passed then were important then, but now you have changed because of them, and they no longer have the influence on you that they used to.

In high school I was worried about things that I could care less about now. I was going to do things that are completely different from what I am doing now. I had different goals, some of them I have obtained and others I have abandoned. I don't think I have a single goal now that I share with the me from then. I had different interests and priorities. I had a different temperament, and after taking the Mayor Briggs personality test again I have changed from an extrovert to an introvert in the last few years.

Though I cannot separate my life now from what I was then, because we are all a result of our past experiences. I have learned that I am so different now that if I were to encounter the same types of situations that I was in then I would act completely different. Like that episode of the StarTrek when Picard ( gets the opportunity to undo the incident where he had been stabbed through the heart, and it changes his whole life. He never ends up having the same life experiences and soon realizes that he would rather have die then than change the opportunity he had to become the man he was. Though if he met another instance where he had to make a similar decision that would then affect his future he would chose a different rout because his experience with being stabbed help him to make a better decision in the future. But he needed the experience being stabbed to become who he was and to learn how to make that good decision later. Your experiences may suck but you will need them for later.

I feel that I have grown like that in the last few years. That my experiences now inform my present and that these changes have made me better. I run a life that has structure, I take care of my body, I have learned how to interact with people that would have otherwise upset me in the past. There are so many virtues that I have bettered in myself. I hope that I can continue this kind of growth for the next years of my life. I feel that these life experiences have improved me so much, that the person I was is so changed, that I doubt I could recognize me any more if the old me and the new me were to face each other.

I want always to continue this kind of progression in my life so that I don't ever stand still. Because there really is no such thing as standing still. You either go forwards or backwards, and I will always choose forwards.